Awards are very flattering. Innovation awards are even more so, because not every innovation is appreciated.
Sometimes, it is important to differentiate between innovation and success. After all, being on the cutting edge can have its downsides and it is not an automatic guarantee for success.
Problem #1: The software industry is not always as innovative as it may seem. A large part of the software on the market today comes from monopolies or, at best, oligopolies. That monopolies and oligopolies impede competition (not to mention innovation and the overall wellfare) is one of the economic principles that all business professionals agree with. Anyone who ever wrote a letter on a PC twenty years ago and occasionally still does today knows what I mean. Sometimes, I have an urging desire for a good, old IBM typewriter complete with a golf ball and correction ribbon.
Problem #2: I first introduced the concepts that GI found so innovative in a similar form back in 1995 to three of the market leaders at that time. The first company didn’t understand it, the second felt it was superfluous and the third one ventured in on the idea – and it paid off. The first and second companies are to blame that this research prototype turned into a standard product which is now used in companies around the world. My defiance was just too strong.
Problem #3: The laws of the market dictate that the demand for innovation is rather small. Audi had an ingenious concept for four-wheel drive vehicles back in a time when no one understood why anyone besides Heidi’s grandfather would ever want one. Market success only comes when the “late majority” warms up to the idea. This group, which also includes the majority of the consumers, wants to see usage and competition. Not only does the neighbor have to drive an Audi, but BMW and Mercedes also need to offer four-wheel drive vehicles.
Problem #4: Not everything that is new, unknown and difficult to understand is good. Bella just pointed that out with the example of a square pie chart.
An innovation is first accepted by the masses when it has proved its worth yet isn’t totally commonplace. A paradox…but then again, everything else would just be paradise and, in some way, boring.